A few years ago data backup on the Mac was a no-brainer, you used Retrospect and a tape drive but today the choice is not so easy.

The new Retrospect 8.1 is now fully functional but some of the terminology used and the way it works is very misleading or confusing. It definitely needs further development and it comes up with worrying messages like:- “Are you sure you want to erase the entire source before copying?” – unfortunately a destination disk is called a ‘Source’ which makes no sense to me!

Retrospect Server version is £300 which allows you to backup other machines on the network as well as the server itself. You could get by with the Desktop version (£80) if you connect the backup drives to your workstation and back up the mounted server volumes across the network. Retrospect’s single biggest advantage is that a backup can span multiple disks.

If you don’t want to spend £300 on Retrospect, I would suggest you use Apple’s Time Machine for regular incremental backups and use another one or two hard drives with Carbon Copy Cloner to maintain a mirror image of the server that can be used immediately if the server disk array has a problem. There is a shareware utility called Time Machine Scheduler which can prevent Time Machine backups during working hours.

Depending on how much storage you need, maybe use 1×2TB with Time Machine and 2×1TB with CCC (for about the same cost as the Retrospect software alone).

TIME MACHINE with External HD or Time Capsule


• Simple system once set up, no user intervention required
• Can backup to a remote location on the network with Apple’s Time Capsule
• Works all the time – use Time Machine Scheduler to stop backups running during working hours
• Incremental Backup

• Cannot span multiple drives
• Not very configurable
• Backup Drive is not bootable and files are only accessible via TM
• Can be very slow, which is ok for overnight backups but not so good for emergency restores

CARBON COPY CLONER with External Disk drives

• Keeps a mirror image (bootable if required)
• Fast
• Events are logged
• Quite configurable with schedules
• Very cheap – $0-$10

• Won’t span multiple drives

RETROSPECT with External Disk Drives

• Backup set can span multiple disks
• Loads of options and very configurable
• Scheduled backups
• Backup Reports let you know by email if there is a problem
• Duplicate or Incremental
• Emailed status reports
• Can backup to cheap USB disks, tape, DVD, network volumes

• Expensive (£300)
• Disastrous interface, confusing and complicated to set up.


• Free software
• Keeps a mirror copy of your HD
• Easy to use


• No support
• Can’t do incremental backups
• No reporting or logging



• Very cheap
• Easy to configure
• Manufacturer Support

• Only backs up entire volumes
• Not many options available such as FTP or incremental back ups


• It’s got an UNINSTALLER in the menu

• It is full of bugs
• It doesn’t report errors like backup destination is full